Soon after, Mrs Maurice descended to the kitchen to give some directions, and Effie was left alone. Once the thought entered her mind that she had promised to visit Mrs Gilman that day, but she immediately concluded another time would do as well, and so continued her reading. After a while Harry, who had been out with his father, entered in great haste, with a packet of medicine in his hand.
‘Effie,’ he said, ’father wants you to take this to Mrs Gilman’s when you go, it is for her little James, and I—’
‘I am not going to-day, Harry.’
’Can’t you go? Oh do! don’t mind the book! you can read it another time.’
‘So I can go to Mrs Gilman’s another time.’
‘Oh, but the medicine, Effie.’
’Can’t you take it as well as I? It is too bad for me to have to be running there all the time.’ It was very unusual for Effie to speak so peevishly, but Harry was in a very happy mood, so he merely exclaimed, ‘Why, Effie!’ and glanced at the book as much as to say, ’did you learn it there!’ Effie saw the glance, and ashamed of her ill nature said, ’Oh it is such a good story, Harry! but if you can’t go to Mrs Gilman’s, why not send a servant?’
’Father said some of us ought to go; so do, Effie, just put up your book for this once. The medicine is to prevent the convulsions that frightened us so yesterday, but father is going out into the country (it is delightful sleighing!) and he says I may go. You know it isn’t every day I can get a sleigh-ride, Effie.’ And the delighted boy gave his sister such a very hearty kiss that she could not forbear answering good humouredly, especially as she had some suspicion that she had not spoken pleasantly at first, ’Well, I will go, Harry, but don’t hinder me now, I shall get through the chapter in a few minutes.’ ’Well, don’t forget, and when I come back I will tell you about all I see.’
Effie finished her chapter and thought of the medicine, and wondered if it was really so important that it should go immediately; but she was now in the most interesting part of the story, and she continued to read a little farther. So the time stole away—I can’t exactly tell how, but perhaps some of my little readers (especially if they have read the little book that delighted Effie so much) can imagine—till the dinner hour. By this time Effie had finished her book, and her father and Harry had returned from the sleigh-ride, the latter particularly in excellent spirits. Effie thought of the medicine as she sat down to the table, and in a moment all her enjoyment vanished; for she had been guilty of procrastination, she had broken her word, and what excuse had she to offer for her neglect? That she had scarcely known what she was about, was no excuse at all, for she knew she ought to have known. She could not, however, prevail upon herself to confess her fault, until after she had repaired it, and so decided to go to Mrs Gilman’s immediately after dinner, and when she had set all right again, to tell the whole affair to her parents and brother.